A GIANT scarecrow mounted on a 20 foot cross has been agitating more than just birds in Billericay.
The gigantic stuffed figure, complete with a miniature counterpart, has been erected in a Jesus-like pose at the junction of Barleylands Road and Southend Road – and many of the area's Christians are not happy.
Assembled in the first week of Lent, the massive scarecrow, seemingly mounted on a huge cross, has been a source of controversy for the faithful in and around Billericay.
One furious woman called the Gazette to express her displeasure over the huge bird-scarer.
The mother from Billericay, who refused to give her name, said: "I think it's incredibly distasteful and it is making fun of Jesus.
"I drove past the scarecrow with my daughter and she said, 'Look, Mummy, there's a man on a cross' – I don't think she should see that. It's an unmistakable crucifix and it's making a mockery out of my religion."
David Finkle, general manager at Barleylands Farm Park and Craft Village, helped to make the scarecrow and its smaller equivalent to promote the farm's half-term activities for children.
The giant scarecrow took a team of four people two days to make.
Mr Finkle said: "There does seem to be a difference in opinion and one or two people have said to me that they think it looks like a crucifix but everyone else has been so enthusiastic.
"He doesn't have hands or feet with nails through them, he's made of bailer twine.
"It took us ages to make his giant patchwork jacket and he is complete with raffia hair which changes in the wind. This is my first year here and I love to make stuff like this.
"I want to bring children's learning to life and I made the scarecrow so people knew about the Books, Cooks and Scarecrow week we're holding.
"Kids can make scones from scratch and then go out and make their own scarecrows. I think it's a shame that children don't do as much outside and we want to change that and bring their learning alive.
"Everyone talks about the scarecrow, he's certainly drawn a lot of attention.
"He's a brilliant example of a scarecrow stuffed with straw, we had to put him up with a forklift truck – that was the hardest part of making him."
Walking around Barleylands Farm Park, the Gazette spoke to visitors about the scarecrow.
Shelly Gunn, 31, from Stansted, was a big fan. "I think it's fabulous," she said.
"I got a photo of my two girls with him and we would love to have taken part in the half-term activities if we hadn't been busy."
'It freaks me out'
Wendy King, 48, a bank clerk from Great Burstead, said: "I think it's a bit creepy. I took a second look at it when I drove past – it freaks me out."
Karen Fellows, 50, a medical secretary from Rayleigh, said: "I could see how people would think it looks like a crucifix. It would look quite scary in the dark."
James Brown, 38, a marketer from Coulter Mews, said: "I don't have a problem with it. I don't know why people would find it offensive, it's just a bit of fun."