26/02/2014 07:02 GMT | Updated 26/02/2014 07:59 GMT

Essex County Council Asked Why Swastikas Are Carved On Its Building (PICTURES)

A council has been asked to explain why it has swastikas on the stonework of its offices.

The placement of the ancient symbol, adopted by the Nazi Party from the 1920s, has been branded "potentially offensive and upsetting".

The carvings on Chelmsford's County Hall – which was built between 1928 and 1939 – were made shortly before World War Two.

But a member of the public has lodged a Freedom of Information request now, asking why it "was still commissioned given the symbol's negative connotations."

The person requesting the information under the Freedom of Information Act, who has not been named, said the timing of the swastika symbols "struck me as strange seeing as the Nazi party formed in 1933 and by March 1938 were beginning an invasion into Austria.

"It's potentially offensive and upsetting to those that lost loved ones in the war or those that fought for their country."

But Dr Mark Curteis, curator of social history and art at Chelmsford City Council, told the BBC the swastikas on County Hall were "lifted and adapted from previous designs", including those from ancient Greece, where swastikas were used.

"The swastika is still a symbol of peace."

Essex County Council said it would not comment before answering the request.