Outlining the broad timetable for implementing the Welsh assembly government's location strategy the Ms Essex said: 'I have undertaken a thorough appraisal of this key assembly government strategy and am satisfied that good progress is being made. We want to spread the economic benefits of working for the assembly across Wales and provide services closer to our customers.
'The Aberystwyth area is the preferred location for the mid Wales office. Several sites are being assessed against specified criteria and commercial negotiations will begin shortly.
'The search for suitable locations in north Wales is also well under way. The preferred location is along the A55 corridor and I expect to announce the precise location next spring.
She added: 'The specific functions of the mid and north Wales offices will announced next summer, after consultations with staff and partner bodies. The north Wales office will provide a broad mix of functions and bring the assembly government closer to people in the area.
'I am pleased that the location strategy is proceeding apace. It is central to the assembly government's plan to spread the economic benefits of assembly employment throughout Wales and will bring the formulation and delivery of services closer to the people we serve.'