Google has started construction on a new $1bn (£789m) data centre in the UK, it has been revealed.
The announcement was made at the World Economic Forum in Davos, where Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has been meeting company bosses as part of a bid to “champion British excellence in tech”.
The new facility is to be located on a 33-acre site at Waltham Cross in Hertfordshire, purchased by Google in October 2020.
The Alphabet-owned company said the centre would boost the growth of artificial intelligence (AI) and “help ensure reliable digital services to Google Cloud customers and Google users in the UK”.
It also revealed that heat generated from the facility would be saved to benefit homes and other businesses in the local community.
Google employs 7,000 people in the UK and said the data centre would add to that figure, initially due to the construction process.
Ruth Porat, president and chief investment officer, said: “The Waltham Cross data centre represents our latest investment in the UK and the wider digital economy at large.
“This investment builds upon our Saint Giles and Kings Cross office developments, our multi-year research collaboration agreement with the University of Cambridge, and the Grace Hopper subsea cable that connects the UK with the United States and Spain.
“This new data centre will help meet growing demand for our AI and cloud services and bring crucial compute capacity to businesses across the UK while creating construction and technical jobs for the local community.
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“Together with the UK government, we are working to make AI more helpful and accessible for people and organisations across the country.”
Mr Hunt said of the investment: “From business conducted online to advancements in healthcare, every growing economy relies on data centres.
“Our country is no different and this major $1bn investment from Google is a huge vote of confidence in Britain as the largest tech economy in Europe, bringing with it good jobs and the infrastructure we need to support the industries of the future.”
The announcement was made just a day after Google boss Sundar Pichai told employees in an internal memo to expect more job cuts during 2024.
A year ago, plans for 12,000 global job losses were revealed, amounting to 6% of its workforce.
According to The Verge, which first reported on the communication, the company’s 182,000 staff were told the lay-offs would not be as severe.
The new data centre builds on other recent tech wins for the UK.
Microsoft confirmed plans for a £2.5bn data centre in late November after overcoming UK regulatory hurdles in its £55bn takeover of Activision Blizzard.
Commenting on the latest deal, Ben Barringer, technology analyst at Quilter Cheviot, said there were signs the government’s message that the UK was open for business, particularly in the AI sphere, was getting through.
But he added: “Relations between the government and big tech have been rocky in recent years with the protracted approval of Microsoft’s merger with Activision and Meta downsizing its UK footprint souring relations.
“Looking at the bigger picture for Google, this investment is somewhat a drop in the ocean and simply represents prudent business.
“The cost of this data centre is around a thirtieth of their annual capital expenditure and with approximately 30 data centres already constructed globally, it isn’t exactly going to move the needle for them by adding another.
“Furthermore, it is unlikely that post-construction many jobs will be created. Data centres do not require scores of employees to run them, and given Google is a very lean business, it will be looking to make its operation as efficient as possible.”
The Princess of Wales beat her husband at an endurance spin class during a visit to an Aberavon leisure centre – while donning her high-heeled boots.
The royal couple joined gym goers at the endurance cycling session in south Wales, and were challenged to see who could cycle the furthest in 45 seconds while riding a virtual race in the Italian mountains.
As they entered the room, the prince apologised to the class saying: “Sorry for ruining your spin class.”
He then pointed out to Kate that she was still wearing her high-heeled boots.
“Not sure I am dressed for this,” she responded.
Once under way, and clearly teasing her husband, Kate said: “Can I make it harder?”
At the conclusion, William said, while breathing heavily: “Talk to you in a minute.”
The event was part of a series of visits in south Wales to mark St David’s Day.
Away from their race, the pair toured the centre’s sports hall and swimming pool, and met children from the local Tywyn Primary School, who were taking part in various indoor sports.
Seven-year-old Rafael Vazquez, from Swansea, presented the couple with a set of Welsh leotards for their children.
His mother Jo Vazquez said: “It was wonderful to meet them. They are so genuine people and have a real interest in the community, children and sport.
“They said how interested they were in keeping leisure centres open, especially swimming, as it is such a key skill for life.”
William and Kate also visited a therapy garden in Pontyclun, where the princess planted a Sweet William – prompting a laugh from her husband.
They also met a therapy dog, seven-year-old Great Dane, Ragnar, with William commenting on the dog’s “big ears”, while Kate said: “He must be very popular.”
Kate was presented with a bunch of daffodils by two-year-old Cora Phillips, with her mother Michelle Phillips, from Llanharan, saying: “Oh my goodness, I did not expect that in a million years.”
Turning to her daughter, she said: “We just met a princess. We’re never going to forget that.”
Police are investigating the sudden death of a well-known drag queen who was found dead in a city centre alleyway in Cardiff.
Darren Moore, a 39-year-old from Newport, was last seen at about 5am on Sunday while wearing full face make-up, a luminous green dress, blonde wig, heels and carrying a clutch bag.
Detectives are appealing for anyone who may have seen Mr Moore in the city centre during the early hours of Sunday to get in touch.
Detective Chief Inspector Paul Raikes, who is leading the investigation, said: “Extensive enquiries are being carried out to establish the cause and circumstances of Mr Moore’s death.
“Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time. A Home Office post-mortem has been conducted and further examinations are currently ongoing to establish cause of death.
“I would like to thank the community for the excellent support they have provided to this investigation so far this week, which has helped enormously and I would appeal for anyone with information to please come forward.
“I would also like to respectfully ask people to refrain from speculating on social media about what has occurred and please let the police investigation take its course.”
Superintendent Michelle Conquer said: “We understand there is shock and upset in the local and wider community following the death of Darren Moore who was a well-known drag artist in Cardiff.
“While an investigation is ongoing, our neighbourhood policing team as always will continue to provide a visible police presence in the city centre.
“A police cordon is in place while enquiries continue at the scene, and we thank the community for their support at this time.
“South Wales Police is proud to represent and protect all communities that it serves.
“Cardiff has a long and proud tradition of recognising, celebrating and protecting equality and diversity.
“Anyone who has concerns is asked to please contact South Wales Police in confidence.”
In a statement issued by police, Mr Moore’s family said: “Darren Moore was a loving husband, son, brother, uncle and friend.
“He was always the life and soul wherever he went, he was Our social butterfly. He made sure he had a lot of time for people, and never judged others.
“Darren’s husband and family want to thank everyone for their support but now need time to grieve and respectfully request privacy at this time.”
A GoFundMe fundraising page has been set up to raise money for Mr Moore’s family.
It said: “Anyone who knew Darren would know how he was never understated in his appearance and costume. His larger-than-life character and charisma were something that you’ll never forget.
“We’d like to support Darren and the family and give Darren the biggest send off. If you’re able too and can afford a few quid, please donate what you can to ensure we do him proud.”
Tributes have been paid from across Cardiff’s gay community.
The Golden Cross, Wales’s oldest LGBT+ venue, posted on Twitter: “We are deeply saddened to learn of Darren Moore’s passing.
“Many of you will know of his long-standing support of the Golden.
“He was the life and soul of the party and would always be entertaining the masses, usually accompanied with a round of shots.”
A person staying at the Manston migrant processing centre in Kent has died in hospital, the Home Office has said.
They were admitted after becoming unwell and died on Saturday morning.
It is understood the person travelled to the UK by small boat and arrived last Saturday.
There is “no evidence at this stage” to suggest the death was “caused by an infectious disease”, the Home Office said.
There will be no detailed comment until a post-mortem examination has been carried out, the spokesman added.
“We take the safety and welfare of those in our care extremely seriously and provide 24/7 health facilities with trained medical staff at Manston,” he said.
The Home Office tweeted that it was “profoundly saddened by this event” and sent its “heartfelt condolences to all those affected”.
Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, said there would “of course need to be a full investigation into this tragic case”.
Enver Solomon, chief executive of the Refugee Council, said it was “vital that a thorough and speedy investigation takes place to understand what happened and whether all the necessary procedures were followed”.
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Manston has been at the centre of controversy in recent weeks.
It is designed to hold up to 1,600 people for no more than 24 hours but, earlier this month, there were about 4,000 on site.
Temporary marquees were set up to house the extra people.
Some migrants were threatening to self-harm and go on hunger strike, with unrest “spreading across the camp”, Sky News was told.
A farmer from Eritrea said he slept on cardboard and was given cold hot dogs for lunch.
Others begged for help via a message in a bottle thrown over the perimeter fence.
Earlier this week it was confirmed that more than 40,000 migrants had crossed the Channel this year.
Suella Braverman, the home secretary, was recently criticised after telling MPs there is an “invasion on our southern coast”.
The UK has agreed a deal with France to try to reduce the number of people making the dangerous journey.
But migration and policing specialists said £8m in extra funding, a 40% increase in officers on French beaches, and enhanced intelligence sharing would not be enough to bring numbers down.
The firebombing of an immigration centre in Dover was motivated by a terrorist ideology, Counter Terrorism Policing South East has said, citing recovered evidence.
Andrew Leak, 66, from High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, is believed to have killed himself after throwing two or three “crude” incendiary devices at the Western Jet Foil site, in Kent, last Sunday.
The counter terror police said a number of “significant witnesses” have been spoken to and a number of items of interest have been recovered.
“Evidence from examining these items suggests there was an extreme right wing motivation behind the attack,” a spokesperson said.
Kent Police said “two to three incendiary devices” were thrown at the centre by “a single suspect who arrived at the scene in a car”.
Two people suffered minor injuries and the suspect was later found dead at a nearby petrol station, the force added.
Tim Jacques, senior national co-ordinator for Counter Terrorism Policing, said: “Assessing when this crosses the terrorism threshold is a complex process and needs to be carefully considered on a case-by-case basis.
“These decisions need to be determined by the facts, as far as they can be established at any given time.
“After considering the evidence collected so far in this case, whilst there are strong indications that mental health was likely a factor, I am satisfied that the suspect’s actions were primarily driven by an extremist ideology.
“This meets the threshold for a terrorist incident.”