THE NatWest bank has been branded insensitive after it refused to remove two swastikas from the floor of its branch in Derby Street, Bolton.

Calls were made for the symbols which are built into the mosaic flooring to be covered up, as they are associated with Adolf Hitler, the Nazis and the holocaust.

But bank bosses say the symbol was commonly used in architecture when the bank was built in 1927.

NatWest customer Mohamed Patel, aged 37, believes swastikas are still seen as a symbol of race hate and has called on the branch to remove them.

The IT consultant, who lives in Daubhill, said: "The swastika is an offensive symbol synonymous with fascism, and I can't believe the bank is not prepared to remove them.

"NatWest has a huge customer base, and I am sure it must have a lot of Jewish customers, who would be upset to see this symbol in their local branch."Two swastikas can clearly be seen in the foyer of the bank. A number of others, in the main service area, are hidden by a carpet.

The tiled floor was put in when the bank was built, seven years after Hitler had adopted the symbol for his National Socialist Party, but six years before he was appointed chancellor of Germany and gained worldwide attention.


Rumworth councillor Rosa Kay backed Mr Patel's calls for the symbols to be removed.

She said: "Rather than risk offending customers using the bank, I think they should be covered up.

"There must be many ways of cheaply removing this symbol which is clearly offensive to many people."

But Helen McHugh, chairman of Bolton Against Racism, suggested the bank hung a plaque next to the tiling explaining the origins of the symbol.

It is thought the swastika was first used as far back as 1000BC in ancient Troy. It has been adopted by various cultures around the world.

Ms McHugh said: "The symbol was originally meant to represent good, but to most younger people it no longer means that.

"If people were made aware of its origins, I believe there is less chance of people being offended."

A spokesman for the NatWest bank said: "These symbols are an original feature of the building, which was created for the Manchester and County Bank in 1927. At that time, these symbols were commonly used for architectural decoration.

"In all these years this is the first complaint we have received about them. We have no intention of removing them."