WHEN he heard the sounds of automatic gunfire, saw smoke and heard shouting coming from the JP Morgan bank, local resident Peter Wells sincerely thought the building was undergoing a terror attack.

He dialled 999 and spent four minutes on the phone to police operators before he was told it was all just a drill.

Mr Wells' wife, Myra, was in the conservatory and he was in the lounge of their Beauchamps Gardens home at around 8pm on Tuesday night when she asked if he could hear 'the noise'.

"I joined her and heard what sounded by like automatic gunfire. Then smoke started to billow from the woodlands near the bank and there was a lot of shouting," he said.

Alarmed, he dialled 999 and it took several minutes for the operator to take down the details before, he says: "Someone must have told her that the police had been informed. But if the police were informed, how come the bank didn't tell anyone living nearby?

"If you are going to do something like this you should at least have the decency to say it was a drill because this literally appeared to be an attack on the bank which I took seriously and suddenly, I'm tying up police resources unnecessarily."

He says he saw other people come into their gardens 'looking worried' and people on the road that runs alongside the recreation area leading up to the bank's entrance 'in fear of their lives'. "It was a ridiculous situation," he said. "I know they have to prepare for any eventuality but I think they should have told local people."

The Daily Echo spoke to another resident, in nearby Hazleton Close who asked not to be named but said they had 'wondered what all the noise was'.

Dorset Police confirmed they had received notification of the planned drill.

A spokesman for JP Morgan said: "J.P. Morgan was facilitating an emergency training exercise at its Bournemouth campus last night, of which Dorset Police was fully aware. We apologise if the noise from the exercise caused any distress to residents in the local area."

On the 'community engagement' section of its website the bank, which has more than 4,000 employees, says: "J.P. Morgan is committed to doing business in a way that benefits our clients, employees and shareholders and has a positive impact on the communities in which we operate around the world. More than 90 per cent of employees at the Bournemouth site live within 20 miles of the town, and we support a number of strategic philanthropic initiatives in the community.

"Our mission is to enable more people to contribute to and share in the rewards of a growing economy. The firm, through the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, has an established programme of grant making to local partners in Bournemouth."