I really hope that this story is gen up. What a top man, and a gent to boot. It's like something straight from the pages of The Chap. What i find so amusing is that he was at it for 23 years. 23 fecking years and no-one had a clue.
Something similar really did happen in Worship Street, just north of Liverpool Street Station in 1987ish. Areas were being flattened in advance of construction, naturally with fences and padlocked gates.
An entrepreneur took a bolt cropper to the padlock of one of the areas and hoisted a sign offering cheap parking. Being far cheaper than NCP (and the parking meter rule of maximum 4 hrs had just been introduced), he made an absolute killing.
Although "his" car park was directly opposite the site offices, he got away with it for nearly 2 months. I believe that his downfall came one evening when somebody from the site needed to get into the compound and found that his key didn't fit the replaced padlock.
I was at Bristol Zoo the other weekend - there were at least three attendants (and one of them wasn't even 23 years old) so I kinda figured this was a windup. If not, at least I know I'd contributed to his pension