Flushed faces as tourists in Cork realise they paid for free parking through public toilet

Confused tourists in a Cork town have been trying to pay for free parking in a novel fashion - through a public loo.

Flushed faces as tourists in Cork realise they paid for free parking through public toilet

Confused tourists in a Cork town have been trying to pay for free parking in a novel fashion - through a public loo.

There are calls for new signs to be erected in Midleton advising tourists that parking at a car park on Distillery Walk is free.

On average, two people a week visit the tourist office after mistakenly putting their money into the public toilet beside the car park, thinking it was a parking meter.

Tony Harpur, who works with Midleton Chamber and Midleton Tourist Office, said hundreds of tourists have been confused about the parking options for a number of years.

"I've been working with Midleton Chamber since 2017 and I volunteered in the tourist office since before that, so this has been going on since at least 2016," he said.

We didn't expect this to still be going on three years later.

Mr Harpur said visitors to the town often come to the tourist office seeking advice on how to pay for their parking.

"The tourist office is just around the corner from the car park, in the Distillery, and we regularly have tourists coming in asking where can they pay for the parking.

"We tell them, if you're parked on the flat, you don't pay. A lot of them find that hard to believe.

"The tourists affected are from across the world, usually English, Continental and American, and some Australians too."

He said the situation has become farcical.

"We had a family come in last week with the same issue and they thought it was hilarious. Usually, we try to laugh it off and the tourists always get a kick out of it. They can't believe how many people have done the same as them.

We're spreading the word now that the newest tourist attraction in Midleton is the automatic loo in the public car park!

Mr Harpur said better signage needs to be erected in the area to clarify the parking options.

"There are signs for parking on the approach to the town but none where the car park is. There are large signs there for the private multistorey but none for the free parking."

In a statement, Cork County Council defended the signs adveritising free parking.

"Midleton is noted for free parking in the town centre.

"Several years ago signs were erected on the approach roads to the town advising 'Midleton Town Centre Free Parking' by the former Midleton Town Council.

There are over 1,750 car parking spaces in the town centre of which 788 are public parking spaces and 994 are in car parks associated with private enterprises such as supermarkets/shopping centres etc.

"Only one private enterprise charges a fee of one Euro per hour, this being a multi-deck car park of 261 spaces."

The county council added that parking information plates throughout the town centre advise of two-hour time limits for on-street parking to encourage a turnover in available spaces.

The council estimates the free parking delivers over €2m in revenue to businesses in the town centre each week.

Regarding the public toilet, Cork County Council says it is clearly identified as such in three different languages.

"The automatic public conveniences [toilets] in the town centre are easily recognisable as such facilities and are identified in writing and other signage (images) as such, in three languages."

This article was updated at 4.15pm with a response from Cork County Council.

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