Jim Dowd has been MP for first Lewisham West and then Lewisham West & Penge since 1992. He didn't answer News Shopper's questions, but all the other MP hopefuls did. This is what they had to say.

ALEX FEAKES (LIB DEM)

Where do you live? Forest Hill

Where are you from originally? Near Huntingdon

Why do you want to represent this constituency? It's my home and we need better representation!

What local policy are you most passionate about? Improving local education and the need for more affordable housing.

Who is your biggest hero? Heroes are important, but real change is achieved by ordinary folk.

What is your proudest moment? Holding my daughter for the first time.

RUSSELL JACKSON (CONSERVATIVE)

Age? 31

Where do you live? Orpington 

Where are you from originally? Croydon 

Why do you want to represent this constituency? I want to represent Lewisham West and Penge because I have always had an ambition to become an MP. I have been involved in local politics in Croydon and Bromley for the last ten years working as both a councillor and a community activist. I want to take this experience and represent Lewisham West and Penge on the national stage. I think we need a local MP who will work hard, be a local community leader and challenge at Westminster for a good deal for the area. 

What local policy are you most passionate about? I am passionate about supporting and developing the local economies in the area, whether it be in Forest Hill, Sydenham, Penge or the northern part of Beckenham. The national economy is growing and developing and Lewisham West and Penge is part of that with new businesses and jobs being created, but we need to continue to build on this by attracting businesses to setup and offer jobs to people living locally.

Describe yourself in 3 words: Determined, energetic, innovative

Who is your biggest hero? My Dad. He has suffered through a great deal of adversity in his life and has always worked hard to support me. He has also always supported his community and set a great example for me growing up. 

What is your proudest moment? Being selected as the Deputy Mayor of Croydon in 2009/10. It was a tremendous honour to represent the area at events all across the UK. 

 

GARY HARDING (UKIP)

Age? 53

Where do you live? Gravesend

Where are you from originally? England

Why do you want to represent this constituency? I have friends who have lived here for a long time, and feel passionate about working for the people of Lewisham.

What local policy are you most passionate about? The NHS and Social Housing.

Describe yourself in 3 words: Breaking down barriers

Who is your biggest hero? Mahatma Gandhi, who proved that barriers can be broken

What is your proudest moment? As a deaf person myself, jointly setting up a social enterprise to help disadvantage and deaf disabled people.

TOM CHANCE (GREEN)

Age? 31

Where do you live? Anerley

Where are you from originally? All over England, my parents moved around a lot

Why do you want to represent this constituency? Because I love living here and care deeply about the future of Crystal Palace Park, the safety of Forest Hill's roads and the fate of Sedgehill School.

What local policy are you most passionate about? The rocketing cost of housing and the insecurity suffered by private tenants, which is pricing people like me out of the area, disrupting children's education as they move around, and leaving too many people in damp, unsafe homes.

Describe yourself in 3 words: A caring campaigner.

Who is your biggest hero? Caroline Lucas, who has made more of an impact in Parliament than 100 Labour MPs.

What is your proudest moment? When Southwark Council started to pay its cleaners and carers the living wage, a campaign I started and Green councillor Jenny Jones got through the council chamber.

MARTIN POWELL-DAVIES (TRADE UNIONIST AND SOCIALIST COALITION)

Age? 51

Where do you live? Sydenham

Where are you from originally? Ashtead, Surrey.

Why do you want to represent this constituency? To be an MP who will speak up for the majority of people in Lewisham West and Penge who no longer feel represented by the establishment parties that offer only austerity and inequality; to campaign for a £10 an hour minimum wage, genuinely affordable homes and a properly-funded NHS, schools and council services.

What local policy are you most passionate about? To stop unaccountable, divisive academies and to bring all schools back into democratic local authorities, so they can work together to meet every child’s needs. I have been one of the main organisers of the ‘Stop Academies in Lewisham’ campaign, mobilising parents, students and staff to oppose the academisation of schools like Sedgehill and Prendergast.

Describe yourself in 3 words: Dedicated, caring, socialist.

Who is your biggest hero? A local hero - Eleanor Marx, feminist and trade union organiser who helped to build the workers’ movement in London and internationally.

What is your proudest moment? Helping, as organiser of the Penge Anti Poll Tax Union, to build a mass campaign that defied an unjust law and showed that a determined national struggle can defeat even a PM like Margaret Thatcher.

DR GEORGE WHALE (LIBERTY GB)

Age? 60.

Where do you live? Hendon, North London.

Where are you from originally? Born in Yorkshire, grew up in the London Borough of Bromley.

Why do you want to represent this constituency? Lewisham West & Penge is at the front line of defence of English culture and identity. Unlike some inner city areas, it is still English enough for failed multiculturalism yet to be replaced by a vigorous reassertion of national values and culture to unite communities. First however, we must halt immigration and expel all illegal immigrants and foreign criminals.

What local policy are you most passionate about? Housing. Many hard-working local people are trapped in modern-day serfdom because of extortionate housing costs. Some have lost their homes - in the last couple of years, Lewisham Council has had a 10-fold increase in the number of families placed in temporary accommodation. But while British families struggle, much of the borough's social housing is let out to foreign nationals. Demand for housing greatly outstrips supply mainly as a result of immigration, therefore halting immigration will alleviate the crisis. 

Describe yourself in 3 words: Open and patriotic.

Who is your biggest hero? Churchill (not the TV dog!).

What is your proudest moment? My wedding day. 14 years ago I met and fell in love with a wonderful Finnish woman called Kaari. We married in the registry office in Helsinki, and celebrated afterwards with pink champagne, Baltic herring and a wedding waltz. Kaari died in 2008, but the memories of her fill me with happiness.

DAVID HANSOM (INDEPENDENT)

Age? 66

Where do you live? Sydenham (have lived in the constituency, in Forest Hill, Penge and Sydenham, for the past 20 years).

Where are you from originally? Born in London (Paddington General) and lived in SE London for 44 of the last 45 years.

Why do you want to represent this constituency? Feel strongly about the need to retain the 18 hole public golf course at Beckenham Place Park (in the constituency) and, as a result, am not happy with the current state of local democracy in this area 

What local policy are you most passionate about? Saving the 18 hole public golf course in Beckenham Place Park.

Describe yourself in 3 words: Active, fair-minded, persistent

Who is your biggest hero? Bobby Charlton

What is your proudest moment? Saving the Beckenham Place Park golf course from partial closure by Lewisham Council in 2008.

JIM DOWD (LABOUR) Did not reply

For your guide to the General Election in Lewisham, click here.