The Royal Borough must tighten up the way it runs its finances.

That is the warning in a new report that has followed a visit by a team from the Local Government Association in June.

The LGA team spent 24 hours in the borough talking to councillors, officers, managers and staff - as well partner organisations working with the authority.

Its report praises the council's strong record of delivering within budget but warns that the overspend in the last financial year has tested this.

It warns 'the current culture of financial management and budgetary control is not robust enough and needs greater resource and grip given the scale of the risk the council is now exposed to'.

It calls on the council to plan more for the future instead of relying on cutting spending on services it provided.

The report has been seized on by opposition councillors - who are not part of the authority's ruling Conservative group.

Cllr Lynne Jones (Independent: Old Windsor), who is leader of the authority's Independent councillors said: "We have felt for some time that the council does not have a transparent strategy in place, relying too much on one off deals to get money in.

"The report is quite damning in places."

She felt the council was putting too much faith in an expected cash boost from allowing houses to be built by developers on the Maidenhead Golf Club - at a time when its long term Borough Plan had been stalled while the Government considered it.

This week Cllr David Hilton (Conservative: Ascot and Sunninghill) - the council's new lead member for finance, indicated a tough new approach.

He said: "There will be no 'would not it be nice if we did this'. Anyone with a scheme they want to introduce will have to wait until next year."

He said the council was focussing on a strategy for dealing with the more unpredictable spending challenges that could not be planned for, such as meeting the needs of the more vulnerable members of the community.