In 1944, even before the D-Day landings that we commemorated last week had taken place, the government was looking towards the rebuilding of London and the other major cities. It recognised that if the squalor of the old cities were to be avoided, then the density of population would need to be reduced. However, that could mean increased urban sprawl as the cities consumed more land.

To overcome that predicament, the planners took on board an idea that had been proposed just before the war known as ‘planned decentralisation’, and the New Towns concept was introduced in 1946 as part of an Act of Parliament carrying that name. Twenty seven new towns were built across the country including, outside London, Stevenage, Crawley, Hemel Hempstead, Harlow, Hatfield, Basildon, Milton Keynes and, of course, Bracknell some 70 years ago this month.

Now, I know that I am biased, but I have seen pretty much all of these towns and in my view Bracknell is head and shoulders above the rest. We don’t only have a forest, but we have parks dotted around the area – each of them with their own play facilities. We have stately homes, one of which proudly (and rightly) describes itself as the creative heart of Berkshire. We have miles of footpaths and cycle paths, allowing people to exercise in perfect safety without having to share the space with any traffic. We have excellent sports facilities and the teams to go with them. We even have our own ski slope.

You can’t wonder that people from all over world have joined the early pioneers from London in making Bracknell their home. We welcome you all.

When the New Towns concept was introduced, it was innovative and forward looking. And I like to think that some of that original inspiration is still with those who are running Bracknell today.

Just look at what has been achieved over the past couple of years. The Coral Reef Waterworld has been refurbished and is now recognised as one of the best of its type in the country, and attracts visitors from across the South East. And, of course, we have our brand new town centre, which has literally brought a new heart to the town and shown that, with the appropriate encouragement, the High Street is not dead and will not be overrun by out of town malls.

You’ve come a long way from those beginnings in post-war Britain, so Happy Birthday, Bracknell, and here is to the next 70 years!

Dr Phillip Lee MP