Health and safety regulations reached new levels of rigid enforcement in Worcester after the local council fenced off two pear trees in a park for fear that falling fruit might injure passers-by.

Visitors to Cripplegate Park were astonished to dis-cover red and white tape around the trees and a sign warning people: watch out for falling pears.

Both trees, which are black-pear trees, the symbol of Worcestershire, have bright orange signs attached to the bark saying Warning Pears Falling.

Council officials acted after the hot summer and wet autumn produced particularly large pears, which it was thought could inflict head injuries if they fell on unsuspecting members of the public.

Ian Yates, parks and cemeteries manager for Worcester City Council, said he was surprised by the furore because the signs were also put up last year after a member of the public requested them.

He said: "It's a smashing year for very leafy fruits and there are some sizeable pears."